(Reuters) – U.S. retailers are gearing up for Black Friday, marking the start of the shopping season that follows the Thanksgiving holiday, while business activity data should gauge the temperature elsewhere.
Britain’s budget update is in the spotlight, while the yen might get some breathing space and Argentina heads for a key election.
Here’s your week ahead in world markets from Lewis Krauskopf in New York, Kevin Buckland in Tokyo, and Naomi Rovnick, Dhara Ranasinghe and Karin Strohecker in London.
1/ BARGAIN HUNTING
The crucial holiday shopping season kicks off with Black Friday on Nov. 24 at a time when investors are questioning whether the consumer-driven U.S. economy can remain resilient.
This year’s Black Friday comes as Americans grapple with soaring interest rates and inflation that, while easing, remains above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.
Already, data for October showed U.S. retail sales fell, pointing to slowing demand, although the decline was less than expected.
There’s also likely to be plenty of interest in chip company Nvidia, which releases its latest earnings report on Nov. 21. It is the last of the results in the earnings season from the Magnificent 7 megacap companies, whose massive share gains this year have led equity indexes higher.
2/ SOFT VS HARD
Soft or hard landing? For sure, compelling arguments can be made for both. The European Commission expects the euro zone will avoid technical recession; Britain just sidestepped the start of one.
The forward-looking flash November PMIs due out globally should help investors assess recession risks and how quickly rate cuts will begin.
The euro zone PMI is already below the 50 number, suggesting economic activity is contracting. It is the same in Britain, while the U.S. Oct manufacturing PMI contracted sharply.
Bond heavyweight PIMCO sees the probability of a U.S. recession within one year at 50%. Market pricing for rate cuts suggests traders reckon economic growth will slow fast enough for the Fed and European Central Bank to switch to easing mode. And of course soft landing hopes could vanish fast if inflation eases more quickly and unemployment rises fast.
3/ 11 DOWNING STREET
UK politics has been dramatic, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having fired his interior minister, moved former leader David Cameron back into government and reshuffled other top roles.
Finance minister Jeremy Hunt will now change gear with his Nov. 22 Autumn Statement, focusing on boosting growth ahead of an expected 2024 election.
Analysts predict the government, hamstrung by a stagnant economy and high debt, won’t make big investment pledges.
Still, Hunt looks set to trim taxes for voters and businesses, offering some relief to the many Conservative lawmakers alarmed at the opposition Labour Party’s big opinion poll lead. He could also downgrade near-term borrowing expectations, temporarily boosting gilts.
Natwest says the UK may issue 10% more debt in 2024-2025 than in this fiscal year – a development that would amplify long-term concerns about gilt market oversupply.
4/ DEATH, TAXES, WEAK YEN
There’s an air of inevitability about a weaker yen, even with the Bank of Japan increasingly hinting at an end to ultra-loose policy and greater investor certainty that the Fed is done tightening.
After pulling back from the brink of 152 per dollar at the start of the week, receiving a lifeline from cooling U.S. inflation data, the yen was back to the weaker side of 151 a day later. It’s déjà vu for traders, who saw support from weak U.S. payrolls numbers on Nov. 3 last only as long as the weekend.
While gaping Japan-U.S. rate differentials do not bode well for the yen, the shift in policy directions should at least give forward-thinking markets some pause.
As long as that’s not the case, pressure is on the Kishida cabinet since a weak yen is unpopular politically. And that means Tokyo is never too far from the intervention trigger.
5/ PHOTO FINISH?
Argentines elect a new president on Sunday in a closely fought race pitching center-left Peronist economy chief Sergio Massa against libertarian outsider Javier Milei and polls suggest a likely photo finish.
They offer two wildly different visions for South America’s No. 2 economy: Milei’s potentially painful shock therapy for the embattled country that has run out of FX reserves, inflation running at over 140% and faces recession. Pragmatist Massa pledges a unity government and more gradual change to solve the crisis that has worsened on his watch.
Investors are bracing for rocky times, with Argentina’s crucial $44 billion IMF programme on the ropes and international bonds priced at deeply distressed levels.
And there’s more election-induced volatility ahead in emerging markets with Egypt, Taiwan, South Africa and India just some facing key ballots in coming months.
(Compiled by Karin Strohecker and Dhara Ranasinghe; Graphics by Prinz Magtulis, Sumanta Sen, Kripa Jayaram, Pasit Kongkunakornkul; Editing by Mark Potter)